Out! Someone is Watching You…with Googley Eyes! No, It’s
Not Actor Marty Feldman.
Troy Henley, CBA Director of Information Technology
might be your next uninvited house guest. Or at least they want
to photograph your home, car and anything else in plain view of
their cameras. On the upside, perhaps Google’s new Street
View photos will help you “tell your story” in trial
by showing the physical location of an event and make that compelling
argument which convinces the jury to acquiesce your client’s
innocence. Perhaps your new case was generated because of Google
Street View maps? Did Google Street View capture some important
evidence as their mapping van drove by; an accident, a suspect,
an building addition sans permit, a parked car, a construction site
without property safety equipment, the physically injured worker’s
comp recipient hauling bags of heavy mulch across his yard, the
weather conditions the day the google map van drove past, a large
pothole, an altercation on the sidewalk, a home owner’s tree
branch before it fell into the roadway, dogs without leashes running
freely? It’s a long shot but it is possible to find tantalizing
case facts. Those stories are beginning to make the news.
famous for Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Sky, Google Moon, it’s
hard to imagine how you could improve much upon that iconic mapping
tool. But Google Street View does just that. Giving you street level
views of buildings and places
just as you would experience them when driving around in your car.
The buildings are up close and in many cities they are offered in
high definition….and so is everything else in the camera’s
path. From a usability standpoint, it is much easier to find your
destination than when you’re looking at the top of a building
from Google satellite image of a street map and trying to decipher
just which building had the white roof!
makes Google Street view an exciting and sometimes controversial
service is what the Google mapping vehicles accidentally capture
on their jaunts through your neighborhood and across the country.
There has been a lot of noise made by property owners over privacy
rights as well as from concerned parents that unwittingly had their
young children captured during the street mapping drive-bye. Google
has since been more open to removing content (or at least blurring
that users report as being inappropriate or that they feel violates
their privacy or poses a security concern. You’ll notice that
parts of Washington D.C., actually most of it, has been wiped clean
of street level views. Even some of the overhead satellite images
have been blurred out. If you GoogleMap “U.S. Naval Observatory,
Washington, D.C.” you’ll notice the circular parkway
encompassing the observatory and a few embassies has even been blurred
out in the aerial satellite views. There must be some really prized
assets hidden there amongst the shrubbery because even the White
House and Pentagon are viewable in high definition satellite imagery.
twist to Google Street View…. the wife that happened to find
her husband’s truck in a suspected girlfriend’s driveway,
the cat burglar climbing over a home’s privacy fence, college
students in search of a tan, cars crashing in a frame-by-frame slow
motion replay, house fires, motorcycle accidents, unlicensed construction,
building sites missing safety equipment, commercial roofers working
without roof-edge safety lines, customers walking out of an adult
bookstore and a litany of other “day-in-the-life of America”
imagery. (I’m sure a coffee table book is in the works)
Street View has some compelling uses in the legal community.
If you want to take the jury on a site visit where an incident occurred
but cannot get the approval of the judge to take the jury out on
a long and expensive day trip, consider Google maps. Google Street
View will let you cruise right up the road in 360 degree viewing
splendor as seen when walking or driving up the road. It is easy
to share this with the jury by using a laptop and an LCD projector\screen.
Google Street View also lets you “look” around in the
image window. Amazingly, the video captured is a nearly complete
360 degree umbrella in a X,Y and Z axis; you can look straight up
at the tree canopy hanging over the road, even see an airplane’s
skywriting, look down at the road conditions or pan over to see
the driver in the car that you are passing in the adjoining lane.
Is that a cup of Tim Horton’s or Starbuck’s that he
was holding…or was he on his cell phone just before the collision?
It would make great trial evidence… if you can find it!
in late April I was sitting in our family's SUV at a traffic light.
Just then, I saw a mini van decorated with small satellite dishes
and a blacked-out dome on the roof drive through the intersection.
The van was not marked with the Google logo, I don’t think
they actually own any of the mapping
vehicles, but it had “Street Smart” emblazoned across
it. I kept checking to see if Google had updated the street views
in my neighborhood. About two months later I saw that street level
views of my neighborhood were now available (they will be outlined
in blue after clicking the Street View button on Google maps). When
I clicked on the street view button I quickly moved the little avatar
(a small icon representing a person) up to the intersection a few
blocks from my home and sure enough, I can see our vehicle parked
at the traffic light where we had been that April day when the Google
mapping vehicle drove past. It was late in the evening as I recall
and you clearly see the setting sun. Wish I had washed the car.
Speak: Google is now experimenting with a software algorithm that
will automatically blur human faces that appear in the street view
photos….I’m sure that philandering husband wished it
worked equally well on his truck’s license plate.
new mobile phone operating system called “Android” is
also utilizing the street view maps in creative new ways beyond
standard driving directions. Google hosted a software developer’s
contest which has generated hundreds of new programs, many of which
utilize the new social networking concepts of web 2.0 to suggest
nearby restaurants to visit or to send an electronic “wink”
at other nearby users with the same phone software (GPS enabled
phones have become the norm), cruise down the street to see a little
icon indicating where the other phone friend is located. This one
Google is still tweaking the street numbering to sync with the street
view images. I’ve typed in a few addresses and found that
Google had applied the wrong street number to the property in some
cases…though it got me very close to my destination. I simply
drove up the virtual street, as I would in a car, until I found
the correct building.
Gallery of Humorous “Things” Caught by Google Street
Google Caught a Cheater
Spy a Luddite
- Boring Couple Sues Google over Street View (the residence of Aaron
and Christine Boring)
Tech for Criminal Defense
G. Henley, I.T. Director, Columbus Bar Association
Photo: This photo by Ante Perkovic is licensed under the Creative
ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.